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The breeding ecology of Reed Buntings Emberiza schoeniclus in farmland and wetland habitats in lowland England

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We studied the nesting and feeding ecology of Reed Buntings Emberiza schoeniclus breeding on farmland and wetland habitats along the Trent Valley in Nottinghamshire, England. Rank and emergent vegetation accounted for most nests and most foraging by provisioning adults. Caterpillars and spiders accounted for 70% of chick invertebrate prey and all broods were fed cereal grain or other vegetable matter. Variation in the abundance of key invertebrate prey across habitats accounted for the foraging preferences of adult buntings. Depredation was the main cause of nest failure, and survival of nests at the egg stage was positively related to the extent of nest concealment. A measure of total brood biomass was positively related to the abundance of key invertebrate prey within 100 m of nests. Rank and emergent vegetation provided Reed Buntings with greater nest concealment and a richer source of invertebrate prey than agricultural habitats such as set-aside, cereals and oilseed rape. The provision of rank and emergent vegetation on farmland is likely to increase the nesting opportunities and productivity of Reed Buntings in agricultural landscapes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2DL, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2004

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